SOCHI, Russia – Both of Team Canada’s top netminders will get a look in the preliminary round of the Sochi Olympics men’s hockey tournament, as Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens gets the opening game nod against Norway on Thursday and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks goes against Austria on Friday.
Obviously Mike Babcock and the coaches want to see what they have with Price, who has been the anticipated starter for the Canadians in the tournament for months.
His last international tournament was the world junior championship in 2006-07, where he went 6-0-0 with a 1.14 GAA. How he handles the Olympic spotlight, and the Olympic ice, remains to be seen.
Luongo is, of course, a bit more of a known commodity, having led Canada to Olympic gold four years ago.
“For me, I just want to be ready for whenever I’m called upon. As we saw last time, things change quickly. Whoever is playing doesn’t matter as long as all three guys are ready to play," said Luongo. “You learn how to handle things a certain way. At the end of the day I’ve always said, this is the Olympics, I want to enjoy being here and taking it all in. Everybody’s going to have a different role on this team and if we’re not all accepting of that role it’s going to be tough for us to win."
Luongo has a bit more experience playing on the larger ice surface in Sochi, which is about 15 feet larger than the one the NHL uses.
"The angles are different. Your lateral movement has to be different. You don't want to be moving as much laterally because the ice is so wide. You might get caught out of position," he said, adding that he's confident he'll be given plenty of support.
"We're one of countries trying to compete for a gold medal. It makes the goaltenders' job a lot easier."
He’s seen this movie before: Luongo got the start in 2010 against Norway in the first game, shutting them out 8-0. Martin Brodeur then started the following two games, with Luongo then taking over in the medal round after Brodeur lost to the U.S. in prelims.
Will history repeat for the Canadian goalies? It's a two-game competition to see who starts a key game against Finland on Sunday.